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July 14, 2021

Visualizing Enough is ENOUGH. | Kansas City, KS. | Leslie Ponce-Díaz, BArch/BFA ’23

by Leslie Ponce-Díaz

Researching visuals pertaining to gun violence and public programming within my community and in other initiatives helps me understand how Enough is Enough could be visually engaging for middle school and high school students. I believe that social media is a great tool to increase student participation within any program. Especially, if the content posted is visually engaging and catches the attention of students. At my community library, the West Wyandotte Library, I scanned six different visuals I found that indicated a service for helping others, the community, or within education. These scans allowed me to research different ways on how my community communicates events and information in a visual and written manner. My community is a melting pot of many different ethnic and racial backgrounds and it helped me understand the importance of translating information both written and visually.

Flyers focused on education

Flyers focused on support groups
Flyers translated information needed for immigrant families

After researching the flyers I found from my community library, I began to do research on organizations outside of my community that focus on raising gun violence awareness. One of my favorite ones that I found is the organization Change The Ref. The create year long projects using different visual mediums and performance to raise awareness on gun violence and NRA corrupt actions. Change The Ref uses visual art to bring attention to the needed conversations surrounding gun violence. My favorite project that they have done is create soap molds in shape of a gun and asked individuals to wash their hand with the soap until it disappeared. This performance action was shared across social platforms to raise awareness. I also really enjoy their most recent project where they presented, “The Lost Class”, a collection of empty chairs graduating to represent all of the student lives lost due to gun violence that were unable to graduate high school.

Another organization that I researched was the March for Our Lives organization that was a student-led demonstration in support of gun control legislation. The organization was led by a group of students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Never Again MSD). March for Our Lives partnered with Gun Safety Alliance to create posters and social media visuals to express their messages on gun violence control.

After researching Change The Ref and March for Our Lives, I realized the impact that visual arts has when expressing issues towards gun violence. It is very powerful to see the voices of students within their communities speak up visually about these issues. It appears that the partnership between March for Our lives and the Gun Safety Alliance asked students to sketch out ideas and then a graphic designer helped create the content. In the initiative Enough is Enough, they are known to use a blue ribbon as a symbol to express the need for gun violence awareness within the Kansas City, KS community. However, I think that it would be more helpful for the initiative to express themselves visually by connecting the students voices to the forefront of the conversation similar to how the two organizations I have researched.

I found it powerful to read posters on what the students wanted to be in the future and how they were afraid that they would not make it because of the gun violence present in their communities. I think it is important to also recognize the symbolism behind a blue ribbon when connected to a police department. Making the voices of students in the community be heard and expressed should be visualized within the initiative as it allows other students the freedom to express themselves. Students might feel uncomfortable participating in an initiative that can be visually connected to police enforcement.

As I continue my internship with Enough is Enough, I think it is important to focus on the visual language of the initiative. I want students to feel like they can express themselves without any restrictions. By including a more expressive and visual language, it will create a better representation of the youth voices. Enough is Enough focuses on the 21+ student lives that have been lost within the Kansas City KS School District. My goal in this internship is to continue supporting their work to help students have the necessary resources to pursue their post-secondary educational goals and or other pursuits.

I believe that Enough is Enough can have a better social media presence through different forms of graphic design. As a founder of RISD’s Latinx club, Mango Street, I have experience with creating social media graphics that bring attention to events and information. Putting forefront the voices of the youth within the community is my goal when designing to enhance the branding of the initiative.

The Enough is Enough initiative focuses on helping curb the violence by educating their families and students as well as promoting student involvement in leading the change. I created a couple different posters that engage in what students are currently interested in, such as accessories, sports, and music. I then combined those interests with Enough is Enough to lead students to learn more about the program. How can students continue to promote and engage with Enough is Enough? Will engaging students with a more contemporary visual help them feel more comfortable in accessing the information? I am challenged to design posters that feel welcoming and engaging but still communicate ideas of gun control without it feeling overwhelming. I created a a more engaging Enough is Enough Poster Contest flyer to hopefully encourage students to apply to the competition. I hope that these posters can help inspire students to visually express themselves creatively when designing their own posters in the future for Enough is Enough.

My research within the library and the community organizations have helped me understand how information could be translated in different forms to reach a variety of audiences. I think my next steps will be to continue making content that communicates why the initiative Enough is Enough is important within the community. Why should students be involved? These online visuals will be more text heavy but I will use my research to indicate what are the best ways to organize the information. The flyers will focus on: What is Enough is Enough?, Why is it important?, and, How can I get involved?. I will also continue brainstorming on how the posters can be enhanced to continue the conversations surrounding gun violence in Kansas City. How can I use my research from the March for Our Lives campaign, to inspire the visuals be a more critical way of visualizing gun control?

In First-Gen Chisme (www.firstgenchisme.com), I have continued to organize the resources on the website to make them more accessible for visitors. I want students to feel supported with the needed information to continue pursuing their post-secondary education. Researching for Enough is Enough has helped me understand the importance of having content that is easily understood for its target audience. Students can download PDF’s on resources towards applying to college and financial tools that prepare them for their education.

Alongside my graphic design research and projects, I have purchased the school supplies that I will be giving out on July 17th and 24th at Bethany Park. My original plans were to visit the high schools in the area but I was advised by a community member that it would be more beneficial to attend an event that already has an active audience. This is because sometimes students can find it difficult to go to their schools during the summer without their needed transportation resources. I will be attending the Bethany Park, ‘La Placita’ event hosted on Saturdays from non-profit Central Avenue Betterment Association (CABA). La Placita is known to have local vendors on Central Avenue Street located in Kansas City, KS. Central Avenue is an important location within my community as it has many Black and Brown businesses that helps support the Black and Brown families in the community.

My First-Gen Chisme cart has arrived and I began painting it the First-Gen Chisme branding colors! I will be taking it to Bethany Park and handing out supplies and information surrounding First-Gen Chisme and Enough is Enough. On the next blog post, I will show it fully painted and assembled! I am excited for you all to see it.

My Maharam Fellowship and B-Lab Venture Accelerator, have inspired me to re-think ways in how my help in non-profits can grow within my community. The next project I am hoping to pursue is the possibility to re-imagine First-Gen Chisme. How would it function if it was established as an official non-profit in Kansas City, KS? How can my work in this fellowship grow in the future to make a permanent collaboration between the USD 500 Kansas City KS School District and First-Gen Chisme? Are there any locations in Kansas City, KS that I should have my eyes on for the future home of the First-Gen Chisme headquarters? I will explore these questions and create more content in regards to the questions I asked about Enough is Enough above in the next blog post. Thanks for tuning in!

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